Day 41 – Espanola to South Baymouth, ON – 110km

The weather was quite uncertain today. Thunder showers were in the forecast, but in the end they held off. There was always at least one threatening part of the sky along with frequent patches of blue sky. The wind was quite strong and the direction kept shifting between the southeast and the west. The road was just as uncertain as the weather. I had stretches of smooth, wide paved shoulder and lengths with no shoulder where even the road was cracked, crumbling, and freckled with loose gravel.

I have to wake up quite early tomorrow to be in line for the first ferry of the morning from Manitoulin Island to Tobermory, on the Bruce Peninsula. At about 10:30am, I get off the ferry and reunite with my brother, dad, and my dog after about 50-something days. My friend Tom will also be there. He’s driving up north from Toronto with Kerr and Burns as I type this right now. Tom will be cycling down to near Owen Sound with me tomorrow from Tobermory. I’m exhilarated, yet also so worn out at the same time–it’s such a strange feeling.

That’s all for today—I need my beauty sleep. I stayed up until 3am last night trying to post all of my blogs from the last week (with caterpillar-paced internet), so perhaps it’s more of a catch-up sleep.


Day 40 – Thessalon to Espanola – 163km

We slept in a bit today. I was up late last night trying to catch up. Max, David, my mom and I ate breakfast at our site’s picnic table. It was another nice day. I suppose we have lots of sunshine days in the bank after all the rain and headwinds the last couple weeks. Ha! If only the weather worked like that. Thunderstorms are in the forecast for tomorrow.

Max, David and I rode 125km together today. We made decent time and had a fairly relaxed day taking turns drafting each other. We were a bit stiff to start after yesterday’s change in pace, but we loosened up after the first 2 hours. At Massey, Max and David stopped at Chutes Provincial Park to camp for the night. We said our goodbyes. I’m heading down into southern Ontario whereas they’re cutting across the north to Quebec to reach their finish in Chicoutimi by the 8th of July. I kept pedaling on to Espanola. I’ll miss those guys.

I passed through a tiny town called Webwood. I think this town had the most visually apparent sexism of any place I’ve been on this trip. There was a huge ad for Old Milwaukee Beer: “Get a free girl with every can”. Just a couple seconds later, I had to laugh, but I was a little shocked. The town’s general store was called, “STEWART and wife’s General Store”. “STEWART” took up most of the sign and the word “wife” was stuck in there, literally in lower case, and there was no mention of her name on the sign. Ironically (and supposedly), Webwood elected Canada’s first female mayor. A sign at the beginning of the town reads: “Webwood, Home of Canada’s first woman mayor”. Grammatically, that doesn’t sound right. Neither does the tone.  Ok, enough torching of Webwood for now.

We were staying at the Thessalon Municipal Campground. Chris, the manager, was quite supportive of our ride. He was very interested in what we’re doing, and kind to us.  Have you ever met someone who just seems to love and appreciate every morsel of life? I got that sense from Chris, although I hardly know him. It came up in our conversation about cross-country charity campaigns that he is a cancer survivor. It makes sense that if he thought he was going to lose his life, and ended up keeping it, that he would never take life for granted again.  Life is precious, and part of what makes it precious is our ability to communicate. It’s one of the lessons I’ve learned from Kerr.

Follow me on this one. Let’s say you’re a clever person. Perhaps you’re creative and full of other talents. Let’s say you didn’t have a way to communicate efficiently for years. Let’s even say you didn’t have a way to be heard at all. Let’s say that just recently, your life changed. You got the services and supports you needed to communicate. Let’s say that the people around you became educated, and ensured your participation. How would you feel, now that you finally have a way to be heard? Would you take your voice for granted? Unlikely.

At this moment, I’m camped at Lake Apseley which is several kilometres south of Espanola. I’m just a little over 100km from rolling onto the ferry which will take me to my reunion point with Kerr and Burns on Wednesday morning. Owen Sound, Toronto, Peterborough, everyone, here I come!


Day 39 – Sault Ste. Marie to Thessalon, ON – 85km

I woke up sprawled across my extra-large bed; something I haven’t had the luxury of doing for a long time. After eating a hearty trucker breakfast in the Travelodge restaurant, Lynne, Max, and David met my mom and I outside our hotel. We went on a quick sight-seeing tour of downtown Sault Ste. Marie—the bridge into the States, the scenic boardwalk on the peaceful river, the Roberta Bondar tent. Thanks to Lynne, we saw the Soo with efficiency and got all the photos! It felt like a Sunday. The sun was shining. The river was peaceful. There was hardly any wind. Traffic was almost non-existent.

Max, Me, David, Gail

After our sightseeing, we went to the Central United Church where “Koncert for Kilometres” was held. There was a genuine friendliness to everyone we met at the church. It seemed like they had met us before, or that we were from their town. These people reached out and strived to understand how they could improve the lives of others in their communities and wanted to do all they could to help our cause; even though they had never met us. Gail and I were given a brief introduction, and then we had our chance to say thank you. Many of the people in the room helped Kilometres for Communication in some way—attending the event, performing, organizing the event, or broadcasting info about “Koncert for Kilometres” on a local radio station.

Just before going into the church

Often, I find the pace of the campaign is too fast. It has to be fast, otherwise costs would be higher and we may never get across the country. However, there is a slight frustration that accompanies the rapid pace. I’m constantly meeting people on this trip—generous, brilliant, intensely active, and people who have stories to tell. Some people I get to know better than others, but almost always, when it’s time for me to leave, I feel sad. I haven’t really gotten to know them that well. If I have, then I’ll miss them. I always have more questions to ask, and almost always, I feel like my simple “thank you” doesn’t do justice to the warmth that people have shared with us.

We didn’t stick around at the church for long. We were meeting people at Velorution (a local bike shop) for 11:30am. Gavin and Jav (apologies if I’ve made a spelling error) were waiting. As David, Max, and I were getting ready, more people started arriving. Quinn and his mother Suzanne came. Ben brought his dad, Stan, along. Both Ben and Quinn are fairly young fellows, so we figured that they might like to see the banner that the Cool Communicators at the Camp Winfield Easter Seals camp had made for Kilometres. We showed them the banner with the children and youth’s handprints with their names and the communication devices they use written inside their handprints. I looked up, and we had a fleet of road bikers ready to pedal; Christine, Robbie (the mech at Velorution), Gavin, Jav, and Max and David (again, apologies for any spelling
errors). There was a 15-minute gathering in the sunshine as we got organized to hit the road. We took a group photo, said our farewells, and then it was time to pedal to Thessalon, about 80km away.

The crew at Velorution

Quinn and Ben meeting

We tucked into a line, and cranked it to the turn-off for St. Joe’s Island—about the halfway point of the day’s ride. We were making great time with the echelon-style of riding. We averaged just under 35km/hr in a headwind. It makes all the difference drafting, but inevitably your turn to lead the pack will come. At this halfway point, Detlef and Dan joined us (again, apologies for misspellings). Gavin, Jav, and Robbie went for another couple kilometres before they turned off to go home. Detlef, Dan, David, Max and I remained. We maintained our pace and made great time to Thessalon. We learned later on that the email sent out requested  the ‘fast road bikers’. David, Max and I have been used to riding at a much slower pace so as to not wear down our bodies on our tour, so this was quite the change in riding style. We definitely had fun cranking it, but tomorrow will have to start out quite lightly.

The gathering at the St. Joe's turn-off

Departing from the halfway point

We did 85km in 2 hours and 40 minutes, so we arrived at the campground quite early. There was a beach across the road from our site, so we decided to go for a swim and have a stretch. I still am trying to catch up on all my missed blogs as well as everything else. I took a little time to relax earlier, so now I’m up late typing away. I probably won’t have the patience or time to wait for the slow internet to upload all my photos tonight, so it will still be another day until my blogs are up. Then again, if you’re reading this, my blogs are up, so this fact is irrelevant.

Max et David sporting the Velorution jerseys--thanks to Lynne

How to sum it all up? The last 36 hours in the Soo have been fantastic. I have so many people to thank. Lynne, your generosity was legendary. Huge thanks to the local riders for the tow and company; I felt excited to ride my bike. Thank you to Rachel, Suzanne, Quinn, Ben, and Stan for coming out to Velorution—it was a delight to meet you. To everyone involved with the “Koncert”, you did a fantastic job that won’t be forgotten by those who attended. Marcella, I didn’t get to ride with you, but I adored the comfy bed and spacious shower of the Travelodge; thank you! What a gift! And what a crew in the Soo!


Day 38 – Pancake Bay to Sault Ste. Marie, ON – 75km

Today had a different feel. I slept in. The sun was shining. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Our campsite was across from a wonderful sandy beach at Pancake Bay Provincial Park. I got all my wet gear outside to dry out in the sun. Then it was time to hit the beach. After days of cold rainy riding, it was such a pleasant change to stand in the sun on a beach. I had a relaxed stretch session to someone gently playing the guitar further down the beach.

I decided to go for a swim. Lake Superior was quite frigid, but the sun was hot, the beach was beautiful, and the water was clear. I waded in. I stood thigh-high in the water, chicken to plunge in. I noticed that my foot was numb. I dove in, moved around furiously for half a minute, and then gave up.

A chilly wade into Superior

I got on the road around quarter to 2. I made great time. The sun was shining, there was very little wind, and the scenery was still gorgeous; lots of beaches, endless water, and rolling hills. I was in the Soo 2 hours and 40 minutes later. Really, my day was just getting started.

There’s a saint who lives in Sault Ste. Marie. Her name is Lynne Brown. I knew from her email correspondence with us and her effort to organize the benefit “Koncert for Kilometres” that she was full of energy and kindness, but I had never met her. I finally met her when I arrived in Sault Ste. Marie around 4:30.

There’s a great bike shop called Velorution near where I stopped for the day. I would be meeting some local riders there tomorrow. Lynn suggested we go and check out the shop before it closed for the day—it was a nice shop; lots of room and a dirt pump track outside for the local kids to mess around on. Lynne had got me two Velorution bike jerseys, and some other bike goodies.

Back in the mountains, I met Max and David. I rode with them around Lake Louise. Our schedules have been just a couple days off ever since Calgary due to different routes and a different itinerary. When my mom arrived at the Sault Ste. Marie Walmart parking lot where I stopped pedaling, she told me that she had met Max and David a little after I left Pancake Bay. They were going to make it to the Soo for the night.

How we would meet, get showered, store our stuff, park, who would sleep where—I’ll spare you all that. In the end, Max and David reunited with me. Lynne, Gail, Max, David, and I went out to dinner. A huge thank you to Marcella, a local road biker who couldn’t make our event, but generously donated much appreciated hotel rooms to Gail and I. Marcella, if you’re reading this, we’ve heard from several people that you’re a delight, and we’re sorry we didn’t get to meet you.

Koncert for Kilometres was an emotional event. From what we hear, some people were crying. There were intense emotions of empathy and astonishment after the concert began with “Only God Could Hear Me”. You can watch the trailer here:

A comical moment where two talented musicians began to play different songs at the beginning helped to ease the pent-up emotion after “Only God Could Hear Me”. Local musicians fiddled, fluted, piped, and played with passion. Lynne made it all happen. I heard about all of this as I sipped lemonade on a deck in Lynne’s backyard. She handed me the program for the concert. At the end of the event, they sang Oscar Peterson’s and Harriette Hamilton’s “Hymn to Freedom”; a phenomenal choice. These are the words:

When every heart joins every heart,

And together yearns for liberty,

That’s when we’ll be free.

When every hand joins every hand,

And together moulds our destiny,

That’s when we’ll be free.

Any hour any day, the time soon will come,

When men will live in dignity,

That’s when we’ll be free.

When every man joins in our song,

and together singing harmony,

That’s when we’ll be free.


Day 37 – Wawa to Pancake Bay, ON – 153km

There’s a distinct feeling of awe that I have looking out on an open body of water when I can’t see the land on the other side. For some reason, I could stare for hours at the waves. My curiosity about what is on the other side of the prairie of water puts me in a thoughtful trance. Right now, we are camped in Pancake Bay Provincial Park. Our site is just across from the sandy beach. It’s amazing to think that the piece of land which I cannot see is the land where I was just 4 days ago.

Since Thunder Bay, I’ve managed to get a full day ahead of schedule. I’ve finished my third day of pedaling 150km+ in the rain. Since Winnipeg, I’ve only had one day without rain, and even that day had a shower part-way through. Anyways, tomorrow I’m sleeping in. It’s a 75km ride into Sault Ste. Marie, and finally, the forecast is calling for sun. I don’t have to be on the road until 1pm. I’m going to have a nice stretch session on the beach and perhaps go for a cold swim. Then it’s off to the Soo!

Lynne Brown has done a fantastic job supporting Kilometres for Communication. Two nights ago, “Koncert for Kilometres” went down. It was raining, but nonetheless, the event which had 5 hours of talent raised over $600. Huge thanks to everyone who performed, came out, and definitely to Lynne, for all the hard work. Tomorrow I get to meet Lynne in person when I cycle in. I’m excited to meet our Kilometres Sault Ste. Marie champion in person. I continue to be amazed on this trip by the generosity of people who have never met us.

Today was a pretty dismal day for weather; lots of light rain, rain, intense fog which I actually enjoyed riding through, and two downpours (one to start the day, one to end the day). The wind was favourable today, which was lovely. I caught up to my companion from yesterday as planned, about 50km in. So for about 4 hours, we shared the nasty weather and cranked through the last 100km of our day. Nature’s spite is much more tolerable with company. I’m so thankful to have had a fellow rider the last 2 days. Thank you Wanetta, you saved me from a 12-hour mental battle.

There was some spectacular scenery. The fog added beauty to the rolling mini-mountains, but it also ruined the scenic look-outs that we would have had over Superior. At some points, the road went quite near the shoreline. With the dense fog, it was quite mystical scenery.

I’m feeling really pumped right now, despite having travelled over 1100km in 7 days of rain. I’m going to be meeting lots of great people over the next 2 days. I get to sleep in tomorrow. Sunshine and favourable winds are finally in the forecast. Most importantly, I’m 4 days away from reuniting with my dad and brother. There’s a lot planned and lots of company ahead. I’m stoked.

Hopefully that week of rain and headwinds has ended, and my initiation into my own province has been completed.


Day 36 – Hemlo to Wawa, ON – 152km

The beginning of today was wretched. A little bit of blue sky teased me as I was getting my bike ready for the day’s ride. The blue sky was in the opposite direction that I was biking in. It was raining. Then it began raining more. My rain gear was already damp from the day before. Within a half hour of my ride, I was absolutely soaked. Riding in pouring rain, getting misted by trucks, is really like taking a shower. You will get soaked no matter what you’re wearing. On days like this, I don’t like to stop a lot. I just want to get it over and done with. If I stop every hour or every other hour and go into a warm, dry RV, I will find it impossible to get to my destination. First, you don’t really notice how soaking wet you are until you enter a dry place—although you do feel the puddles in your shoes and your sopping gloves. My main reason for avoiding frequent breaks is that it’ such a tease to experience the comfort and then force myself to go back outside.

The 70km ride to White River from where we stayed (about 30km east of Marathon) was a mental battle. Just after White River, I met another cyclist, Wanetta. She’s doing a cross-Canada as well. She isn’t travelling with the weight of panniers because she’s doing a supported ride similar to what I’m doing. Her campaign is called Cycling Across Canada Raw. She’s raising money to send people through a health and lifestyle workshop which was profound in her life. To learn more about her campaign, check out the website: Anyhow, the last 80km of today was mostlyin the  rain, but it wasn’t gruelling because I had a new friend to ride with. I was supposed to pass my French friends, Max and David, at some point today, but I never saw them. There’s no cell reception around here, so it’s difficult to schedule a rendezvous. Perhaps I’ll see them tomorrow, but I ended up with company today, and that made my treacherous day somewhat enjoyable. Amazing what communication can do.

Wanetta and I part-way through a rainy ride

Today, the road went inland. Tomorrow, the road is following the shores of Superior again, so I hope to get the helmet camera rolling for some beautiful scenery. It should be a tough, but gorgeous ride. I think rain is in the forecast again, but supposedly, I’ll have a tailwind.

It’s a short blog tonight. I have to do some laundry. All the rain has forced me to go through my entire cycling wardrobe.


Day 35 – Cavers to Hemlo, Ontario – 157km

Over a month ago, as we were driving out west, I was feeling quite scared seeing the roads that I’ve been on today and yesterday. I saw the speeds that the trucks were driving, narrow shoulders, and countless steep climbs and descents. I had some long distances planned—I really wondered if my itinerary was realistic. As we drove into Thunder Bay, a lane was blocked on one of the arterials. A dog had been hit by a car. A line of cars had stopped behind the car that had hit it; there was a crowd of people around this poor creature struggling for its life. There was a noticeable pool of blood around the dog people were trying to wrap in blankets. It was quite a disturbing scene. We drove by, but didn’t stop.

Shortly after, we stopped for the night in a Walmart parking lot. I couldn’t sleep. The image of that dog, the blood on the road, and the unexpectedness of the situation for whomever was involved—they triggered something in me. There was a bit of homesickness. I wanted to see my dog and my loved ones. However, there was another fear. After driving over 800km on roads that scared me, seeing all the truck traffic, and seeing how impatient and fast the truckers were—I felt terrified that I would be riding this stretch a month later.

Well here I am. The roads aren’t as bad as I feared. My distances were long, but despite wind and rain, I’m actually 30km ahead of schedule. I should be a full day ahead of schedule by the end of tomorrow. The shoulders are great at times, but quite narrow for the most part. Usually the trucks and RVs will go into the other lane to pass me. I do have to be hyper-alert, but I wouldn’t call it nerve-racking.

Anyways, I probably shouldn’t even bother writing about the weather, because it seems to have been the same for the last number of weeks: headwinds, cloudy, and patches of rain. The scenery has been spectacular (I did get the helmet camera out for the first time today since the Rockies). Small mountains of Canadian Shield line Lake Superior, and the highway goes down to the shoreline, in-land into river valleys, and up several hundred metres to the top of these mini-mountains for stunning views. The road goes up 200 to 300 metres, then it goes down. Up, then down, up…then down. Today was mostly slow on the climbs, fast descents to compensate, and fairly slow on the flats with the fierce wind. The wind was a little ridiculous at times today. I climbed to the top of a mountain, and was met by a fierce gust at the top. Ok, I’ll be going downhill soon enough, not a problem. Nope. The road did go down. There was actually a long descent with about a 3-4% grade, but the wind was blowing fiercely against me. I descended this mountain in my lowest gear. I was going only slightly faster downhill than it took me to climb. I kept checking to see if I had a flat tire. Nope. I felt like a piece of paper. I needed more weight behind me. Gravity wasn’t a strong force compared to the wind.

I’m leaving the coast of Superior for the next day as I travel to Wawa. Today I passed through Schreiber, Terrace Bay, and Marathon. Hopefully I’ll be in Sault Ste. Marie a day early for a rest day! I’ve been making good tracks in Ontario; 860km in 5 days of cycling.

In my mind, challenges have 2 characteristics. One: they are daunting. Two: they can be overcome. Two years ago, at the beginning of my year off between high school and university, I knew what I wanted to see out of Kilometres, but had no idea how to go about it. Bit by bit, things came together. I was lost at times, excited, and sometimes had no clue. Bit by bit, I’m cycling the roads I feared, and exceeding the distances that I thought were ambitious. Many people were telling me before the ride had started that my distances were too long.

So, we’re faced with this challenge: in Canada, waiting lists for communication devices and services are long (lengths vary from region to region). Every day, there are adults in Canada who get talked to like kids, because people don’t understand that “speech disability” is not a synonym for “slow, immature, or stupid”—there are many other common attitudes and assumptions that need to be extinct. Policies aren’t what they should be in many places, AAC isn’t a high priority in most governments (but what is one of the most important things in life…communication?). There are people out there who can communicate, but don’t have a way to because they don’t have the access, or there isn’t the recognition in their community. All of this is a challenge. Bit by bit, it can be overcome. Is there a clear linear path? No. We don’t really know where the road will wind, how many hills and valleys it will climb, or what the weather will be like. We do know where the road ends. We keep going until we get there. We don’t know how long it will take, but we do what we can, and one day we’ll get there.


Day 34 – Thunder Bay to side of the road camping spot – 154km

It will be several days until this blog gets posted. I don’t have any cell service, which means I don’t have access to internet. We are parked for the night at a rest pull-off a little west of Rossport. We have quite the view. We are also on quite a bit of a slant, but it’s worth the look-out over Superior and the chunky islands that fade into a horizon haze. There is quite a bit of noise—another price for the view is listening to trucks struggle as they climb the hill or use engine brakes going down.

The view from our slanted side of the road camp site

I got on the road around 11am today. Other than the wind, it was a perfect day to cycle—about 20 degrees and partly cloudy. There was a 20-30km/hr easterly. This may sound a little gross, but sometimes I spit when I cycle. At one point today, I had a strong cross-head wind. I spat to my left. The wind was so strong that it wisped my spit about a tractor-trailer length behind me, and across the road onto the on-coming shoulder. There were times today when I was going nowhere, even going downhill. In many places, the hills and trees provided enough shelter to allow me to maintain a decent speed. The wind was coming from the east, and I was riding near the shore of Lake Superior. The easterlies have all the momentum from travelling hundreds of kilometres over open water. I was heading northeast today, so fighting wind wasn’t as frustrating as it was in the Prairies. It would be nice though if the prevailing winds actually were prevailing winds. I’ve only had 1 tailwind this whole trip, and the forecast has all easterlies for the next week; just my luck.

The road from Thunder Bay to Nipigon isn’t the most pleasant to cycle—it’s ok. The shoulder changed from car-length wide and smoothly paved, to crumbling half foot, to nothing, but it was mostly a handlebar wide, which satisfies me. There aren’t any scenic lookouts, and there are some hills. Just before Nipigon, it starts getting quite beautiful. There’s a cliff of red rock. The contrast of the pinky-red to all the coniferous green
is quite stunning. Nipigon is a cute town on a bay surrounded by island. East of Nipigon is when the road becomes spectacular to cycle. There are lots of hills—mountains to some people—gorgeous rock faces, and stunning vistas over-looking Lake Superior. The altitude of the climbs here is similar to that of the climbs in the interior of British Columbia. I’m still in awe of the Pacific Coastal and Rocky Mountains, but I think the northern shore of Lake Superior is under-rated by tourists. I know I’ve forgotten how beautiful Ontario is as I’ve travelled other parts of Canada.

On almost every rock face, and there are rock faces almost every kilometre of the 700km stretch of road, there is tasteless, sloppy graffiti. Right now, I can look straight ahead, and see “KATIE and BRIAN JULY 2010”. Riding through this country, seeing everything slowly, I get annoyed when I see all this spoiled nature, and some of the graffiti is quite tasteless, and sometimes visually profane. But this rock slop gets me thinking. What’s the demographic that decides they need to pull-over and mark their presence on nature? Are they a newly-wed couple, choosing their honey-moon rock? Are they two people in the bliss stage of a beginning of a relationship, or are they a retired couple who’s celebrating their 30th anniversary with a cross-country trip and some graffiti? Probably not the latter. Perhaps some of these people feel they have something to prove; marking their territory, another photo that can go on Facebook, who knows. I wonder how many of those people with their name eternally painted next to someone else’s, are still together. Questions…have to occupy my mind in some way on the road. My curiosity keeps me sane.

I doubt that anyone would have guessed that I was thinking that while riding my bike. That just goes to show how unique we all are, how different our thought processes are, and that we all need our own unique way of communicating.

You’ll notice that I’ve included some photos in this post from our event yesterday in Thunder Bay!

Dawn, Me (Skye), Tracy, Gail

Robin, George, Me, Nicole in a more natural shot. This is the crew that cycled me into our event.

Robin presenting the funds that the George Jeffrey Children's Centre raised

Days 31-33

I’m in Thunder Bay tonight. We haven’t had cell service for three days, and we likely won’t have service for the next 5 days either. My apologies, but these are fairly quick blogs. It’s late, I’ve lost an hour transferring to the Eastern Standard Time Zone, and I need to wake up early tomorrow to get a good distance in while the rare pleasant weather lasts. As you’ll read in a moment, the last couple days haven’t been enjoyable—with the exception of this afternoon.

Camping spot east of Kenora to a rest area past Dinorwic – 165km

I felt great coming off my first rest day since Calgary. I didn’t feel stiff. I forgot what it felt like not to feel stiff. It was raining, but I didn’t care—all my gear was dry and clean. I ate a good breakfast, suited up, and headed out for my pedal. I was on the road around 10am—later than I like to get on the road, but the extra rest was nice and needed.

It was a fairly slow day. Hills and wind were against me. It rained for the first two hours of the pedal. Eventually it cleared up, and the wind from riding dried my gear. I wasn’t under any stress, I was well rested, I had recently come from the Prairies (so the hills were welcome), and I found it fairly easy to keep a relaxed mindset…for most of the ride. I tell myself: “just pedal quickly and easily, don’t push it, you have time, enjoy the scenery, enjoy the privilege of seeing everything slowly, and don’t worry about the time—you’ll get there”.

I passed through my original destination, Dinorwic. There were still a couple hours of light, so I decided to meet the support vehicle later on, and to keep pedaling. I wanted to be certain that I could get to Thunder Bay on time for our Monday event. It started to rain again. Oh well, I was dressed for it. The support vehicle passed me—‘see ya in another hour and a bit’. I cycled contently for about 5 minutes. Then I noticed how hard it was raining. Then I noticed that although I was dressed in 100% waterproof gear, I was soaking. It didn’t feel pleasant, but I was still warm. Trucks were misting me. I began to start regretting my decision to pedal on. Then I got the flat tire. Side of the Trans Canada, middle of nowhere, gravel shoulder, soaking wet, trucks whizzing by with their mist, limited time before dark, I was less than thrilled. I took my wheel off and did the routine. I took the tire off, and was trying to check for what caused the flat. I couldn’t find anything in the tire. I was getting really frustrated. Now I was cold because I stopped moving. I popped my wheel back on, not fixed yet, and walked on. There was a rest area 1km ahead. I found a gazebo. I took another stab at the tire. I found a fragment of glass embedded in the tire. Normally I would use a pair of micro-pliers to take something so small out, but I didn’t have that luxury. I was shivering, and trying to get that hated sliver of glass out. I couldn’t do it; my hands were trembling too much, had no grip because they were wet—I pretty much had a mental breakdown right there. I eventually got that sliver out, but it was getting dark, it was raining hard, and the visibility was miserable. I decided to call it a day. I couldn’t reach Gail in the support vehicle because she had driven out of cell reception. I assumed that she would figure out something was wrong and turn back. It wasn’t pleasant for her; she had quite the scare when I didn’t show up, but eventually she came back and found me. Sorry mom. She would probably like to elaborate on that story, but I’d like to move on.

Camping spot east of Dinorwic to camping side of the road past Upsala – 180km

I woke up to the sound of torrential rain. My gear was still damp from the day before. I ate my breakfast slowly, spaced out, hating that I was up at 6:30am and about to go out into heavy rain for hours. And that’s exactly what I did. There are some days where you say to yourself at the beginning: “How am I going to do this, or is this possible?” Often, I re-evaluate the situation: “There’s got be another way”, and then I realize there
is no alternative. At the end of the day I looked back, and thought to myself, “I would do anything to not be where I was this morning, what lay ahead of me is now behind me…somehow”.

I thought of myself as a vehicle, and my mind as the passenger, my body as a machine. Underneath the rain gear, behind the windshield of my goggles, I have to tell myself that all I have to do is stay seated. Keep those legs moving, fuel yourself with the right fuel, don’t run on empty and just keep going. I didn’t want to get off my bike. I think of it this way. If you choose the right equipment, maintain your equipment, train properly, and fuel yourself properly, you’ve done the hardest part. The rest will take its course.

Another day in the rain; 6 of the last 7 days of cycling have been rain. That was also a headwind day.

Camping spot east of Upsala to George Jeffrey Children’s Centre, Thunder Bay – 147km

I woke up at 6am today. I knew I would be losing an hour to the time zone change. It was annoying, yet exciting at the same time, changing back to my native time zone. Today was a hustling day. I was riding a moderately relaxed pace for the first 3 and a half hours. I passed the Atlantic Watershed point today, which I found interesting how they determine such an exact point. Every rain drop that falls after this point that runs off into a river, will end up in the Great Lakes basin, with a chance of graduating to the Atlantic.

Leaving the Hudson Watershed

I had to be in Thunder Bay by quarter after 3 to meet some new friends who would be riding with me. The last 2 hours of my ride, I was really pushing it. I didn’t want to take a chance of being late—so much so that I didn’t stop to look at the time on my phone. It turned out that I was 45 minutes early. Then the sun came out. I had a pleasant afternoon break.

I relaxed in a grocery store parking lot about 5km away from the George Jeffrey Children’s Centre. Robin, Nicole, and George rolled into the parking lot. We met, and then pedaled to the fundraising BBQ that Nicole and Robin had arranged—they deserve many thanks for the event they arranged. It wasn’t huge, but there was a relaxed atmosphere, we met great people, they had made a lovely welcoming banner for us (which looks like it involved a fair bit of effort), and between an employee “dress-down day”, a donation from Nortec Computers, and funds raised from the BBQ, the George Jeffrey Children’s Centre raised a little under a $1000 for Kilometres for Communication.

I continue to be amazed by the generosity of people as we travel from place to place. We continue to talk with delightful and inspiring people. We continue to hear that the same issues loom in every region we’ve visited so far. Long waiting lists, but also, the problematic attitudes of people—talking to adults like children because they have a visually apparent disability, talking around people as if they aren’t present, and a lack of openness. What do I mean by a lack of openness? Dawn and Tracy whom I met today gave a good example of what their experience was with some Thunder Bay bus drivers—one in particular according to Tracy. When the bus stops, and lowers, and it is taking someone a while to get on the bus, there is this bus driver who ignores the person who is elderly or disabled who is boarding. Imagine if you felt the tension of someone turning their head, looking in the opposite direction while they wait for you, seemingly annoyed. Now imagine if you have a condition where your muscles spasm or you don’t have great voluntary control over certain muscle groups which you need to move around—when you feel that tension, it might take you a little longer to get on the bus if your muscles stiffen up. In contrast to this silent bus driver, Dawn gets on the bus much more quickly with the notoriously snarky bus driver who’s been known to offend many people. When Dawn wants to board this fellow’s bus, he teases her. But they have inside jokes, and it’s a friendly tease. Dawn feels relaxed, and she’s able to get on the bus more quickly.

Today was a success. I’m exhausted and having difficulty writing coherent sentences. Thank you spell check—but my creativity is lacking a bit right now. I’ve caught up on almost everything that I need to before I go back out of cell service. I think blogs are unlikely the next number of days as I will be out of cell service until Sault Ste Marie.

Tomorrow I want to get a good distance past Nipigon, maybe even Schreiber (200km away). The day after that I want be in at least Marathon, and then the following day, near Wawa. After that, it is off to Batchawana Bay near Pancake Bay Provincial Park, and then to Sault Ste Marie the next day. If I stick to that, I’ll be a day ahead of schedule to catch up on blogs in the Soo!

That’s all for now; there should be some gorgeous cycling, lots of big steep hills, and rain is in the forecast again.


Day 30 – Rest Day in Kenora, Ontario

There wasn’t too much to this day. We slept in a little bit–something we haven’t had the luxury of doing in weeks. The rest of the day was playing catch-up. Emails, organizing our events further down the road in Ontario, designing our Kilometres for Communication T-shirts, and doing some much needed chores (like laundry!). It was a busy day, we didn’t get all that we needed to get done, but we made some progress.

We were camped next to a calm lake which connected to Lake of the Woods. Around midnight, I decided to go for a night swim in the light rain. That swim calmed me down, and helped me get to sleep instantly. I would need my sleep. Big days were ahead of me.